Gather 'round the fire

Keep you and your guests feeling warm and comfy during those chilly evenings entertaining on your patio or deck. From fireplaces to fire pits, you can create an ideal gathering place for family and friends, or a cozy nighttime retreat for two. Bonus: These quintessential summer centerpieces are perfect for twilight cocktails or batches of gooey s'mores.

Here are some fiery ideas to help warm up and enhance the ambiance of your outdoor space.

The Tuscany Outdoor Fireplace from Unilock

Alaskan summers bring the perfect weather to spend a majority of the day outside. Why not bring the atmosphere of your home's living room into the backyard? Outdoor fireplaces give the comfort of gathering around this intimate setting. Shown here: The Tuscany Outdoor Fireplace from Unilock is a fully customizable fireplace that comes standard as wood burning, but can be upgraded for natural gas/LP applications. Available in several colors. Faltz Landscaping is the exclusive dealer for Unilock's product line of outdoor fireplaces.

Bafco fire bowls

Gathering around the fire is an art – literally. Local artists Jody Barton and daughter Bayley create fire bowls that are truly functional art. The Bafco fire bowls are hemispherical, steel-spun structures that, once ablaze, are a sight to behold. "These fire bowls are able to withstand all the elements and be a family hand-me-down for generations," says Jody. Each unique bowl is hand drawn, cut, signed and dated by the artists, so you're sure to get a fire bowl that's unlike any other. When not in use, the fire bowls become beautiful sculptures that cast wonderful shadows. For information, visit www.bafco.biz.

Jake Honeycutt of Dirty Paws Productions

Jim and Gayle Binkley's Fairbanks home is the perfect setting for this large concrete fire pit created by Jake Honeycutt of Dirty Paws Productions. The fire pit looks great at the edge of a stone patio overlooking a gorgeous view. The fire comes out of a small fire ring with a manual hand valve for manual ignition. This simple fire pit fits nicely in its "natural" setting – a patio area all made of simulated – yet lifelike – stone. The pit, made from steel rebar, has a base structure coating of concrete. The final coat of custom concrete was sculpted by hand using custom texture pads and hand tools to simulate stone. A combination of water-based concrete was used as stain and paint for color. Dirty Paws Productions in based in Tucson.

portable outdoor firepit from UniFlame

Ah, the call of the wild. Well, at least you can pretend you're there with this portable outdoor firepit from UniFlame (WAD820SP).  Made of genuine marble and slate and accented with diamond-shaped copper inlays, this fire pit features a porcelain-coated steel fire bowl. Standing 21.5 inches high, the unit has a durable wrought iron stand and a 34-inch bowl diameter. Its compact size and four log capacity makes it just the right size for a variety of outdoor areas. UniFlame products are available locally through NorthHeat Hearth & Home; A Fireplace Store; and North Country Stoves; or visit www.uniflame.com.

Living Accents Outdoor Fireplace

Perfect for patio entertaining, the freestanding Living Accents Outdoor Fireplace warms the whole gang in style. Clean up after each burn is simple with the slide-out ashtray at the bottom. The large opening provides an expanded view of the burning fire and makes it easy for log placement. A wood log rack is also included in the set. Easy to assemble. Available through Ace Hardware.

Living Accents Cast Iron Chimnea

Modeled after traditional Mexican chimineas, the Living Accents Cast Iron Chimnea has a round steel screen design that lets all your guests visibly enjoy this freestanding fireplace no matter which angle you are viewing it at. A popular deck accessory, chimineas are great for outdoor barbecues or to use as a patio heater. Features an easy-access sliding door and four extra sturdy legs to ensure it stays put. Available through Ace Hardware.

Majestic Al Fresco Outdoor Wood Series ODSR42A

Bring the enjoyment and comfort of "inside the house" to the outside with a beautiful and sophisticated stainless steel outdoor fireplace from Majestic Products. Expansive viewing areas and radiant heat construction ensure a clear view of the flames while keeping everyone cozy. Available in both wood and gas models, you can add the ambiance of a fireplace almost anywhere – from a city rooftop to a backyard retreat. Shown here: Majestic Al Fresco Outdoor Wood Series ODSR42A. Available locally through Majestic Sales Co., Inc.

Weber Fireplace

Now it's easy to have the warmth and inviting atmosphere of an outdoor wood-burning campfire. Take the 28-inch Weber Fireplace camping or use it on a patio or in the garden – anywhere you want to enjoy the fun of a fire without leaving a trace of it. Made of heavy-gauge steel construction, the lid and bowl are porcelain enameled so they won't rust, fade or burn. The heat shield includes a unique extinguishing feature for putting out the fire quickly and safely. Simply remove the support ring and put the lid over the wood to easily extinguish the fire. Available through True Value.